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Seven Years of Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh
Human Rights Watch/Helsinki
Human Rights Watch
New York $ Washington $ Los Angeles $ London $ Brussels
Copyright 8 December 1994 by Human Rights Watch
All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 94-79484
On the right: Azeri dead from fighting in Karabakh buried in "Martyr's Cemetery," Baku. Located high above the Caspian on a bluff, it used to be Kirov Park, Baku's loveliest, named in honor of the Bolshevik revolutionary.
On the left: Karabakh Armenian dead buried in main cemetery, Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh.
Human Rights Watch/Helsinki (formerly Helsinki Watch) Human Rights Watch/Helsinki was established in 1978 to monitor and promote domestic and international compliance with the human rights provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. It is affiliated with the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, which is based in Vienna, Austria. Jeri Laber is the executive director; Holly Cartner, deputy director; Erika Dailey, Rachel Denber, Ivana Nizich and Christopher Panico are research associates; Anne Kuper, Ivan Lupis and Alexander Petrov are associates; ðeljka Markiƒ and Vlatka Miheliƒ are consultants.
Jonathan Fanton is the chair of the advisory committee and Alice Henkin is vice chair.
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHHuman Rights Watch conducts regular, systematic investigations of human rights abuses in some seventy countries around the world. It addresses the human rights practices of governments of all political stripes, of all geopolitical alignments, and of all ethnic and religious persuasions. In internal wars it documents violations by both governments and rebel groups. Human Rights Watch defends freedom of thought and expression, due process and equal protection of the law; it documents and denounces murders, disappearances, torture, arbitrary imprisonment, exile, censorship and other abuses of internationally recognized human rights.
Human Rights Watch began in 1978 with the founding of its Helsinki division. Today, it includes five divisions covering Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, as well as the signatories of the Helsinki accords. It also includes five collaborative projects on arms transfers, children's rights, free expression, prison conditions, and women's rights. It maintains offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, London, Brussels, Moscow, Belgrade, Zagreb, Dushanbe, and Hong Kong. Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. It accepts no government funds, directly or indirectly.
The staff includes Kenneth Roth, executive director; Cynthia Brown, program director; Holly J. Burkhalter, advocacy director; Gara LaMarche, associate director; Juan Méndez, general counsel; Susan Osnos, communications director; and Derrick Wong, finance and administration director.
The regional directors of Human Rights Watch are Abdullahi An-Na'im, Africa; José Miguel Vivanco, Americas; Sidney Jones, Asia; Jeri Laber, Helsinki; and Christopher E. George, Middle East.
The project directors are Joost R. Hiltermann, Arms Project; Lois Whitman, Children's Rights Project;
Gara LaMarche, Free Expression Project; Joanna Weschler, Prison Project; and Dorothy Q. Thomas, Women's Rights Project.
The members of the board of directors are Robert L. Bernstein, chair; Adrian W. DeWind, vice chair; Roland Algrant, Lisa Anderson, Peter D. Bell, Alice L. Brown, William Carmichael, Dorothy Cullman, Irene Diamond, Edith Everett, Jonathan Fanton, Alan Finberg, Jack Greenberg, Alice H.
Henkin, Harold Hongju Koh, Stephen L. Kass, Marina Pinto Kaufman, Alexander MacGregor, Josh Mailman, Peter Osnos, Kathleen Peratis, Bruce Rabb, Orville Schell, Gary G. Sick, Malcolm Smith, Nahid Toubia, Maureen White, and Rosalind C. Whitehead.
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTSThis report is based on a mission to Azerbaijan, Armenia, and the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast conducted by Human Rights Watch/Helsinki researchers1 in March and April, 1994. Christopher Panico, Human Rights Watch/Helsinki researcher, Jemera Rone, Human Rights Watch Counsel, and Fatemah Ziai, Human Rights Watch/Helsinki researcher, visited Azerbaijan from March 23 to April 6, 1994, including the capital Baku, and the cities of Gobustan, Saatli, Sabirabad, Yevlakh, Barda, and Agjabedi. From April 8 to April 21, 1994, Christopher Panico and Alexander Petrov, Human Rights Watch/Helsinki researcher, visited Yerevan, Armenia, and Nagorno-Karabakh. During their fiveday stay in Karabakh, they visited the towns of Stepanakert,2 Askeran, Shusha, Krasnyi Bazar, and traveled to Fizuli in occupied Azerbaijan.
They spoke with refugees, displaced persons, government officials, journalists, human rights activists, foreign embassies, international aid organizations, prisoners of war, and hostages and their families.
Christopher Panico wrote the report; Jemera Rone edited it and also wrote the legal section. Rachel Denber proofread the work. Anne Kuper and Marti Weithman provided invaluable assistance preparing the report for publication.
Human Rights Watch/Helsinki would like to thank the Governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia and the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh for their cooperation. The authors would also like to thank all those who read and commented on the report.
Formerly Helsinki Watch, Human Rights Watch/Helsinki has been monitoring the conflict connected with Nagorno-Karabakh since December 1990 and has issued two reports dealing directly with the fighting there: Bloodshed in the Caucasus: Escalation of the Armed Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, (New York:Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, September 1992), hereafter Escalation of the Armed Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh; and "Bloodshed in the Caucasus: Indiscriminate Bombing and Shelling by Azerbaijani Forces in NagornoKarabakh," (New York: Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, Volume 5, Issue 10:July 1993), hereafter "Indiscriminate Bombing".
This report only covers military operations carried out in direct connection with fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh. Consequently, it does not deal with cross-border fighting and shelling between the Republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia. These topics, however, may serve as the subject of future reports.
In November 1991, the Azerbaijani Parliament annulled the autonomous status of Nagorno-Karabakh. The map in this text depicts the present provincial deliniations, with the border of Nagorno-Karabakh highlighted over that. Human Rights Watch/Helsinki takes no position on the ultimate status of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Azerbaijan government has renamed Stepanakert "Khankendi." For the sake of clarity, the report uses Stepanakert.
TABLE OF CONTENTSSUMMARY
I. IMMEDIATE BACKGROUND TO THE CONFLICT, FEBRUARY 1988MARCH 1993
II. VIOLATIONS OF THE RULES OF WAR, APRIL 1993 - FEBRUARY 1994
THE SEIZURE OF KELBAJAR BY KARABAKH ARMENIANFORCES - APRIL 1993
U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 822 AND U.S.-RUSSIANTURKISH ATTEMPTS AT PEACE
KARABAKH ARMENIANS TAKE AGDAM-JULY 1993...............18 U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 853
KARABAKH ARMENIAN FORCES PUSH TOWARDS THEIRANIAN BORDER-AUGUST 1993
MORE DISPLACED AZERIS-SEPTEMBER 1993
DIPLOMATIC RESPONSES TO THE FIGHTING
KARABAKH ARMENIAN FORCES DRIVE TO THE IRANIAN
BORDER AND SEIZE ZANGLEAN PROVINCE - OCTOBER1993
AZERBAIJAN'S DECEMBER 1993 OFFENSIVE
III. DEVELOPMENTS IN 1994
IV. HOSTAGES, PRISONERS OF WAR, AND OTHER CAPTIVES...........51
OFFICIAL HOSTAGE AND PRISONER OF WAR COMMITTEES52HOSTAGES HELD IN ARMENIA
PRISONERS OF WAR HELD IN ARMENIA
V. DISPLACED PERSONS AND REFUGEES
VI. VIOLATIONS OF THE LAWS OF WAR BY FOREIGN ACTORS.......63
VII. THE REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA AS A PARTY TO THE CONFLICT....67
IX. U.S. POLICY
X. PEACE NEGOTIATIONS
OSCE MINSK GROUP
RUSSIAN POLICY AND PEACE NEGOTIATIONS
XI. RUSSIAN WEAPONRY, SOURCES OF ARMS, AND LIMITS ON NEW ACQUISITIONS
APPENDIX A: INTERNATIONAL LAW
CUSTOMARY INTERNATIONAL LAW APPLICABLE TOINTERNATIONAL ARMED CONFLICTS
Prisoners of War
Mistreatment of Prisoners of War
Civilians in Occupied Territory
LAW APPLICABLE IN INTERNAL CONFLICTS
CUSTOMARY INTERNATIONAL LAW APPLICABLE TO BOTH
INTERNAL AND INTERNATIONAL ARMED CONFLICTS
Protection of the Civilian Population during Conflict............96 Detainees
Designation of Military Objectives
Legitimate Military Targets
Destruction and Pillage of Civilian Objects
Prohibition of Indiscriminate Attacks Affecting Civilians and Civilian Objects; the Principle of Proportionality..100 Starvation of Civilians as a Method of Warfare
Proof of Intention to Starve Civilians
APPENDIX B. POINTS OF VIEW
REPUBLIC OF AZERBAIJAN
REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA
APPENDIX C: LETTERS TO/FROM PRESIDENT LEVON TER-PETROSYAN
This Human Rights Watch/Helsinki report on the war over the NagornoKarabakh Autonomous Oblast3 of Azerbaijan covers the period from the beginning of 1993 to September 19944 and examines violations of the rules of war by the three main parties to the conflict: the Azerbaijani army and forces under its control, the Nagorno-Karabakh army, and the Republic of Armenia army.
The war C the longest-running conflict in the former Soviet Union C is nearing the end of its seventh year. A shaky cease-fire achieved in May 1994 has left two large, well-equipped armies facing each other over a deserted landscape of empty villages and collective farms in the Azeri lowlands around Karabakh. An estimated 25,000 have been killed and over one million displaced and made refugees on both sides. In December 1994, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) agreed to send a 3,000-strong multinational peacekeeping force to the conflict, but the details still must be worked out and the Although the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast of Azerbaijan declared independence in January 1992 as the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, no country recognizes this independence, and under international law the area remains part of Azerbaijan. In this report, "Nagorno-Karabakh" refers to the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast.
In the Soviet Union, an autonomous oblast was the second smallest administrative unit, subordinate either to an autonomous republic (e.g., North Ossetia) or to one of the fifteen union republic that constituted the U.S.S.R.
There are some minor updates, including information on the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe's [CSCE] December 1994 decision to send to Karabakh a 3,000strong multinational peacekeeping force.
What began in early 1988 with demonstrations calling for the unification of the Republic of Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh had become a full-scale war by
1992. In 1993, the war outgrew Karabakh itself, with almost all the fighting spilling over into Azerbaijan proper as Karabakh Armenian forces6 conducted large-scale operations that resulted in the seizure of all the Azeri-populated provinces surrounding Karabakh on the south, west, and east and in the forcible displacement of the Azeri civilian population, some 450,000-500,000 individuals.7 Karabakh Armenian forces occupy twenty to twenty-five percent of Azerbaijan.
Fighting in Karabakh took on new dimensions in 1994. Tractors and herds of sheep have given way to T-72 tanks, Grad missiles, heavy artillery, and SU-25 ground attack fighter planes. Casualties are counted in the tens of thousands.
Fifty C even one hundred C men may be killed in just a few days to retake a single village or strategic height.
Because 1993 witnessed unrelenting Karabakh Armenian offensives against the Azerbaijani provinces surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh,8 the vast majority of the violations during this period were the direct result of these offensive actions.9 The Azeri civilian population was expelled from all areas captured by The war in Nagorno-Karabakh presents an interesting case for the use of ethnic identifiers. "Karabakh Armenians" is used to signify forces connected with the selfproclaimed, breakaway "Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh." "Karabakh Armenian" forces, however, may include citizens of the Republic of Armenia, mercenaries, and members of the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia. Only where it can be determined that soldiers in an action are overwhelmingly from the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia will the term "Armenian forces" or "Armenian soldiers" be used.
Throughout, "Azeri" will refer to those who are ethnically Azeri, such as an "Azeri women" or an "Azeri-populated village." "Azerbaijani" will refer to organizations connected with the Republic of Azerbaijan, such as the "Azerbaijani army." This division is arbitrary and limited to this paper.
According to Prof. Tadeusz Swietochowski, "Azerbaijani" was coined in the 1930s to refer to the inhabitants of the Soviet republic Azerbaijan. "Azeri" became the preferred term of use during the "perestroika" era and Popular Front period. There is no received, standardized usage.